Fun fauxtography tricks you can try at home

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


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Who needs Photoshop? The optical illusion, called "forced perspective," fools the eye and brain into wrongly interpreting objects that are large and far away, as small and near. Using precise alignment to manipulate human visual perception, it only appears in this photo that the woman is blowing a giant gust of smoke from her mouth, when in reality the fumes blow far behind her in the distance.
Credit: jasoneppink, Flickr

Who knew that optical illusions can be so diverse in the application of the principle called,  “forced perspective?” Click here or right on the photograph to go to the 12 images in the iMediaEthics album that were collected from the Internet by Polish bloggers.

The album includes many clever variations of the theme that exploits the ambiguity of size cues in a two-dimensional image. An ant walking around the edge of the drinking cup is not alone. It is accompanied by what looks like a tiny flying helicopter–that is actually a full-size helicopter in the distance aligned just right. The eye and brain are confronted by conflicting information and continue to make the wrong guesses about the ant, cup and helicopter sizes.

The fundamental demand pressed by almost all 12 photos –Is the object near or far away? Since all the objects are flat in any photo, only certain spacial cues help us to properly interpret what we are “seeing” or what is “real.”

Knowing these cues, hoaxers or tricksters can readily exploit them and fool us. The particular images in our album are more humorous than deceptive. However they both “school the eye” as well us give us a bag- o-tricks that we can try at home without ever opening up the computer or Photoshop software.

So much emphasis has been place on “Photoshop” effects, that no muss no fuss, easy-to-do basic photo tricks are not much discussed. Study these examples, if you come up with new illusions –send them in to, and we will add them to the album. Have fun!

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